Hedgehog Body Language
Hedgehogs display a variety of emotions through their body language! Here's a great graphic from Pawsitive Pup that explains what your hedgehog is saying with their body language.
Owning a new pet hedgehog is a wonderful experience. There is so much to learn. We will be here to answer any questions you have about anything pertaining to the care or health of your new baby hedgehog.
Hedgehog habitats need to be maintained at a constant temperature between 74 ° F to 77 °F.
If they get too cold they can attempt to hibernate and it can be deadly. African pygmy hedgehogs are not built to hibernate. If temperatures fall below 70 ° F your baby is at risk! Signs of a hibernation attempt are cold belly, wobbliness, and lethargy. You can hold your hedgehog skin to skin until they warm back up if you catch it early enough. Do not shock their body temperature by providing any heat other than your natural body warmth.
If they get too hot they can have a heatstroke. A sign of a hot hedgehog is a hedgehog laying flat on their belly also referred to as splooting, comfortable hedgehogs can also sploot so if you see this behavior and temperatures are over 80 ° F, your hedgehog is overheated.
You should use a CHE bulb 75 or 150 W that only emits heat (not light), an 8.5 in dome with a ceramic socket and dimmer, and a thermostat that regulates that temperature as needed, a space heater can also be used in order to keep that area warm at all times on a controlled basis when its very cold or in place of a CHE however it should be regulated by a thermostat so it will kick on and off as needed. If you choose to use a space heater, we recommend using a thermostat that can handle the demand a great one that accommodates a space heater is the Inkbird Wifi thermostat. The inkbird model is unique due to the fact it will alert your phone if you're away from home and can be set from the app. An alarm also sounds on the device itself. The humidity level that is closest to their natural environment in Africa is 40% - 50% year round. You can use a dehumidifier near their enclosure if the humidity is too high or a humidifier when the environment is too dry.
In the event the power goes out in the winter you should have a backup heating method. I like hot hands (hand warmers) for emergencies and travel. These are toxic and should be placed in a sock and knotted shut or placed in one of our deluxe snuggle sacks with a hand warmer pouch built-in. In the event you do not have any put your hedgehog in a fleece snuggle sack or blanket and keep them close to your body until the power is back on. Do not use a handwarmer for a hedgehog that has begun a hibernation attempt!
Enrichment & Exercise
Daily exercise is vital for your hedgehog. I use bucket wheels and I also have some available to buy for $30. I do not recommend the use of other wheels other than the Kaytee comfort 12 inch wheel (however it is noisier and harder to clean). Wheels must be cleaned at a minimum every other day. Your hedgehog will likely use the bathroom while exercising. They can be potty trained by putting a litter box under the wheel. Hedgehogs are burrowing and foraging critters and they love dig boxes, sand baths, and small toys.
I recommend fleece, pine bedding, or paper bedding. If you purchase a cage set up, our kit will include a bag of kiln dried pine shavings. HEDGEHOGS ARE ALLERGIC TO CEDAR AND IT WILL KILL THEM. Fleece bedding is a good option to retain warmth but needs to be washed often and hedgehogs are very likely to use it to hide under (this can be prevented by attaching it to the bottom of the cage using velcro. All bedding should be spot cleaned daily. Hedgehogs love to burrow so I recommend pine, aspen, and paper to support their natural behaviors.
Hedgehogs are prone to upper respiratory infections and ammonia buildup can be deadly if you do not clean their cage once every two weeks at a minimum. You can use dawn dish soap or diluted white vinegar for hard surfaces. The cage and all accessories must be dry before you put the bedding in. A wet cage can make your hedgehog ill and cause fungal and bacterial growth.
You can bathe your hedgehog with a mild soap once a month. I use baby head to toe wash or Aveeno oatmeal and a clean SOFT toothbrush specifically for your hedgehogs. Make sure your hedgehog has had at least thirty minutes to dry before placing them back into their home. Hedgehogs can also be spot cleaned with baby wipes as needed. You will know it's time to give them a bath when they make your skin itchy and very uncomfortable or when they have poopy feet. Do not use Dawn dish soap it can cause their natural oils in their skin to dry out. I do not recommend adding oil to their baths because it can clog their pores and cause skin issues and bacterial growth. We do not recommend using oatmeal bath bombs for humid climates oatmeal has starch and sugar. In animals that are already in a humid climate different from their natural environment (40% to 50% humidity) you can increase the likelihood of skin infections. In more humid regions, we also recommend using an anti fungal and antimicrobial wash that does not contain tea tree oil at least once every 3 months to keep your hedgehog's skin clean and keep fungus at bay because fungus loves humidity. The two I have used and know to be safe are
Your hedgehogs nails will be easiest to trim during bath time and should be trimmed every two weeks. If you have any issues trimming their nails please reach out! We gladly do nail trims locally for $10 with an appointment with no anesthesia needed.
Hedgehogs need fresh food and water available at all times! Babies under 6 months should always have food available. Adults can have up to 2 TBSP of food per day preferably sometime between 5-10 pm as your hedgehog is waking up for the night. Your baby will come home with a 14-day supply of Coastal Quills Hedgehog food that they're already eating. It's a blend of a few high quality grain-free cat foods and has been specially mixed just for hedgehogs. We have health, nutritional needs, variety, and natural diet in mind. You can buy 1.5 lb or 3 lb bags and I will ship them to you. If you choose to feed something else I recommend Hedgehog Precision. You can also feed pinky mice twice a week, mealworms, super worms, crickets, horn worms, and dubia roaches. For those of you that can't handle the bugs you can refrigerate them to slow them down and pick up bugs with tweezers. You can also feed many types of boiled unseasoned meats occasionally.
Hedgehogs are great pets and with proper care they can live for up to 8 years! Hedgehogs are not domesticated animals and can drastically change once they're in their new homes ours are simply tamed with positive reinforcement and routine cuddles. Our babies are handled as soon as mom will let us touch them! Our babies are used to daily household noises, children, and other pets. Hedgehogs require at least 30 minutes of socialization with you every day to bond and stay happy and healthy. Hedgehogs can become huffy and even get depressed or anxious and self mutilate if neglected for days and weeks on end at the minimum they should at least be thoroughly examined for injuries every 24 hours. While they're first settling in put a worn t-shirt with your scent on it as their only hide for the first months until your baby gets used to your scent and starts to associate your scent with comfort. They are very scent oriented and you shouldn't change your hygiene routine during the first two months.
We do not recommend housing any hedgehogs together for any reason at any time they are solitary territorial creatures and can fight suddenly for no apparent reason.